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Film class: week I

August 24, 2006

The University of Louisville semester started this week and I’m holding the second session of my two classes Thursday. One of those courses is new for me: “(Global) Politics Through Film.” For the past 15 years, this class was taught without the (Global) by a now-retired colleague who was interested primarily in domestic American politics.

Consider this post the first in a semester-long series relating to the class (find the syllabus here).

Film #1: “Casablanca.” Students viewed it with me on Tuesday.

Reading for Thursday: Tilly, Charles, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” in Bringing the State Back In edited by Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 169-191.

Tilly’s argument is provocative and I hope the class members will have lots of interesting things to say about states and violence.

It might seem trite to show “Casablanca,” but at least half the students had not seen it before and it is a perfect film to highlight some of the morally ambiguous aspects of IR that often dominate introductory discussions about the field.

Of course, on that note, we could spend the entire hour talking just about Captain Renault (played brilliantly by Claude Rains).

Note: Regular Duck readers may recall a comment thread that highlighted Tilly’s classic essay — sparked by my post about the first episode of “The Sopranos” this past March.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.